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Inter Milan supporters are celebrating outside the Duomo di Milano after the Italian soccer team won the Serie A title for the first time in 11 years, ending Juventus’ nine-year reign in Italy.
Inter Milan supporters are celebrating outside the Duomo di Milano after the Italian soccer team won the Serie A title for the first time in 11 years, ending Juventus’ nine-year reign in Italy.

Welcome to Monday, where Modi loses a key state after COVID backlash, a different cryptocurrency record is broken and the ancient Colosseum gets a high-tech remodeling. Warsaw-based daily Gazeta Wyborcza also looks at how Poland's long-time right-wing leader Jarosław Kaczyńsk may be losing his grip on power.

• Modi's ruling party loses key state amid COVID surge: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party has been defeated in West Bengal. Campaign rallies and voting have caused a new surge in COVID cases, with daily cases topping 300,000 for ten days in a row.

• Philippines Foreign Minister attacks Beijing over South China Sea: Manila's top diplomat used harsh language to threaten China as the running regional territorial dispute escalates.

• U.S. denies Iran nuclear deal sealed: After Iran announced Sunday that a new accord had been signed with Washington that included an exchange of prisoners for billions of dollars, U.S. officials said "no deal" had yet been reached to halt Tehran's nuclear program.

• Eight more killed in Myanmar protests: Security forces in Myanmar opened fire on demonstrators on Sunday, leaving at least eight people dead in one of the biggest protests against the junta in recent days.

• 26 killed in boat accident in Bangladesh: At least 26 people died and others went missing after an overcrowded boat crashed into a sand carrier. Five people were rescued and sent to the hospital.

• Colombia's president withdraws tax bill: Colombian President Ivan Duque announced on Sunday the withdrawal of a controversial tax reform bill following days of massive protests across the country.

• New floor for the Colosseum: The Italian government has announced a €18.5 million plan to furnish Rome's ancient Colosseum with a new floor. Cultural events could be held there once the floor is rebuilt.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

The Dead And Disappeared: A Village Emerges From 72 Days Of Russian Occupation

Russian forces have been pushed out of the area around Kharkiv. Villages that were occupied for two months are free once more — but utterly destroyed. And thousands of people have disappeared without a trace.

Kharkiv and the surrounding villages faced weeks of constant Russian shelling.

Alfred Hackensberger

TSYKRUNY — Andriy Kluchikov uses a walking stick, but is otherwise fairly sprightly for a 94-year-old. Under his black wool hat, Kluchikov seems fearless as he surveys his hometown in northeastern Ukraine. “The missiles don't scare me,” he says with a smile. “I have slept in my own bed every night and never went down into the basement.”

As for the two-meter-wide bomb crater that has appeared in his garden, between the vegetable patch and the greenhouse with its shattered plastic roof, Kluchikov almost seems proud. “No one can intimidate me,” he says. “Not even the Russians.”

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In the early days of the war, in February, Russian artillery almost completely destroyed this village of Tsyrkuny, near Kharkiv, Ukraine's second largest city. Only a few houses, including his own, were left undamaged. Shortly afterwards, Russian troops marched into the village and occupied it for 72 days. It was not until early this week that the Ukrainian army was able to liberate Tsyrkuny and many other areas to the north of the country’s second-largest city, Kharkiv.

It is the Ukrainians’ most successful counter-offensive so far. They are thought to have pushed the invading troops back almost to the Russian border. “The offensive is gaining momentum,” according to the independent American thinktank Institute for the Study of War. “It has forced Russian troops on the defensive and has successfully alleviated artillery pressure on Kharkiv City.”

In the modern city of Kharkiv, home to around 1.5 million residents, the relief has been palpable over the last few days. Restaurants and cafes have reopened. People are walking and riding bikes in the parks, and couples are strolling hand in hand, enjoying the warm spring sunshine. You can still hear the artillery, but it is now many miles away.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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